Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos
1Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin both point the finger at Europe and the United States for what has now become one of the biggest mass migrations of people in modern times.”To be honest, the whole Western world is to be blamed in my opinion on this issue,” Erdogan told CNN on Thursday. Putin, talking to reporters Friday, said it’s the West’s wrong-headed foreign policy in the Middle East and Northern Africa that’s at the root of the crisis.The image of 2-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body, face down in the surf of a Turkish beach, rocketed around the world. He died along with his 4-year-old brother and mother — three of several thousand refugees and migrants who have perished while trying to find safety in Europe.Europe’s response so far has been disjointed and divided, prompting nations to scramble for a cohesive response. The crisis will be front-and-center when EU foreign ministers meet at an informal gathering in Luxembourg on Friday. The nations will send their home ministers for emergency talks in Brussels on September 14.
2Russia is interested in both foreign and domestic investment, especially in the country’s Far East region, President Vladimir Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum on Friday.Making an appeal to countries from the Asia-Pacific region, Putin said his government will increase efforts to develop Russia’s Far East.”(We) will provide to investors the best conditions to do business so the Far East of Russia can successfully compete in terms of efficiency and return on capital with leading business centers,” Putin told the conference in Vladivostok. He added that the country’s largest oil firm, Rosneft , will invest 1.3 trillion roubles ($19.56 billion) in projects in the region.
3Misrepresenting Azerbaijan. “Over the last several years, the Republic of Azerbaijan, widely acknowledged and praised for its commitment and pursuit of religious tolerance, has become a target of harsh criticism by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIF). Apparently, somewhat confused about its mandate, the commission issues statements about political issues, which have nothing to with religion and religious freedom, refers to places within Azerbaijan by Armenian names revealing, inadvertently perhaps, its sources of information. Also, in its criticism of the country it follows the lines used frequently by the Iranian mullahs. Sadly, this reflects both the apparent personal bias and the lack of expertise and first-hand knowledge by the commission’s staff” Maayan Jaffe- The Washington Times.
4Azerbaijan: Is It Time to Consider Sanctions? “Some regional experts want the United States and European Union to consider imposing economic and political penalties on Azerbaijan to put pressure on Baku to respect basic individual freedoms. The sentencing of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova to a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence on September 1 should be seen as a tipping point in relations between the United States and European Union and Azerbaijan, some rights advocates contend. Ismayilova was convicted on criminal charges of embezzlement, abuse of power and illegal business practices. Her supporters contend the case against her was fabricated to stop her investigations into the corrupt practices of top Azerbaijani officials and their family members” Giorgi Lomsadze- Eurasianet.
5Rocky economy tests friendship of Putin and Xi. “Mr. Putin has enjoyed basking in the stature of Mr. Xi, who leads one of the world’s largest economies. But with the recent stock market turmoil in China and the slowest economic growth in a quarter-century, Beijing will be unable to provide the ballast that Mr. Putin has sought against economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe and the United States after its annexation of Crimea, not to mention plummeting oil prices worldwide. “Russia was dependent on China growing and driving the demand for its commodities: oil, gas and minerals,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “China was an alternative to Europe.” JANE PERLEZ and NEIL MacFARQUHAR- The New York Times.
6Saudi King Salman will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday to seek more support in countering Iran, as the Obama administration aims to use the visit to shore up relations after a period of tensions. The visit is the king’s first to the United States since ascending to the throne in January, and comes after the United States agreed to a nuclear deal with Iran in July, raising Gulf Arab fears that the lifting of sanctions on Iran would enable it to pursue destabilising policies in the Middle East. Despite the tensions, the two countries depend on each other on crucial security, business, and economic issues. Saudi Arabia remains the world’s largest oil exporter, and its commitment to pumping oil freely despite a recent price decline has helped contribute to sustaining the U.S. economic recovery. Obama and Salman will discuss global energy markets during the visit, the White House said.
7Russia is condemning itself to repeat history. “Russia, flexing old imperial muscles, now sees history as a weapon in the neo-imperialist armory. Not for the present regime the muddled forays into the dark — Soviet — past. Unlike the government of President Boris Yeltsin, which came to power through the ruins of the Soviet Union, President Vladimir Putin needs the past to be scrubbed clean of all possible embarrassments. The Soviet period — in which the working class lad he was rose to be a lieutenant colonel in the KGB — is seen again, with some regrettable lapses, as a period of heroism and global power” John Lloyd- Reuters.
8Azerbaijan`s Minister of Defense Zakir Hasanov has met with British Ambassador to the country Irfan Siddiq. The sides discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as exchanged views over military and political situation in the region, military cooperation between the two countries and regional security. They also discussed issues related to Minister Zakir Hasanov`s upcoming visit to Great Britain, AzerTac state news agency reported.
9Mr. Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department visited Kazakhstan on September 2–4, for meetings with the authorities and other stakeholders. At the conclusion of his visit, Mr. Ahmed made the following statement: “Like other countries in the region, Kazakhstan has been hit by large external shocks (oil prices, Russia and China slowdown). Against the backdrop of these shocks, economic growth has decelerated sharply and financial conditions have tightened. As a result, the growth outlook has weakened. However, I was impressed by the authorities’ determination to put in place the policies needed to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability”
10The President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany Ralf Andreas Brett, who presented his credentials. During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues of cooperation, given the priorities of the state development of the two countries. It was earlier reported that the trade turnover between Turkmenistan and Germany has increased by 11 percent in recent years. Over 60 business entities with German share have opened their branches and representative offices in Turkmenistan.
UNIDO to work together with the International Solar Alliance
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has signed an agreement to work together with the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The joint declaration was signed on the first day of the Sustainable Energy Forum for East Africa taking place in Kigali, Rwanda from 19-21 March. The Forum has brought together key players within the sustainable energy sector to discuss challenges and opportunities for the sector within the wider East African Community.
The declaration was signed by Tareq Emtairah, Director of UNIDO’s Department of Energy and Upendra Tripathy, Deputy Director General of ISA.
UNIDO is the specialized agency of the United Nations promoting and accelerating inclusive and sustainable industrial development. UNIDO helps countries, among other things, to increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 to provide affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a treaty based international inter-governmental organization which was launched on 30 November 2015, with headquarters in India. The ISA has been established to collectively address common key challenges to scale up solar energy and take coordinated action to aggregate demand for finance, technologies, innovation, reseach and development,and capacity building.
At the signing ceremony, the two parties agreed to cooperate in a number of areas including developing knowledge networks to raise awareness of the benefits of solar energy in member countries; and to jointly collate and provide evidence-based advice to member countries on policies and practices to create a favourable environment for solar energy.
They further agreed to work with other parties, and to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of the global network of sustainable energy centres, which includes the East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. The centres provide policy support, capacity building and technical assistance on solar energy applications and energy efficiency.
Business leaders and policy makers engage at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit
Business leaders from ASEAN and Australia attended a series of engagements with policy makers at the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.
These engagements provided them with opportunities to share insights into regional market dynamics, as well as exchange views on opportunities from the fast-growing technological advancement and enhanced economic ties between ASEAN and Australia.
Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi, who was in Sydney to participate in the Special Summit, also took time to engage these industry leaders and leading CEOs from ASEAN and Australia.
The business segment of the Special Summit saw the convening of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Conference and a CEO Forum.
At the SME Conference on 16 March, Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, and his counterpart from Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, highlighted the importance of SMEs as the engine for growth, and the opportunities for SMEs to benefit from closer economic linkages between ASEAN and Australia in the digital era. On this occasion, Prime Minister Turnbull announced the launch of an initiative on digital trade standards.
Opening the CEO Forum on 17 March, Prime Minister Turnbull highlighted the importance of receiving practical feedback from businesses in progressing regional economic initiatives. He also underscored the value of sharing experiences and expertise in areas such as sustainable and smart city development. To this end, Prime Minister Turnbull launched a new AUD30 million ASEAN-Australia initiative on smart and sustainable cities. Speaking at the same forum, Indonesian President Joko Widodo highlighted the immense opportunities from economic growth and digital technology advancement in ASEAN. The one-day forum addressed key topics related to ASEAN-Australia economic partnership, including on tourism, digital transformation in services, advanced manufacturing, Industry 4.0, agri-food and energy supply chains, and infrastructure.
Partnerships key to promoting economic empowerment for rural women in the MENA region
The economic empowerment of rural women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was the topic of a side-event organized by the governments of Italy and Tunisia, in cooperation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UN Women and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The event featured a range of high-level speakers from Italy, the MENA region, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, and was moderated by Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations in New York. “Women face several barriers to their equal participation in the social, economic and political spheres, and these constraints are felt even more harshly by rural women,” he stated in his opening remarks.
Fatou Haidara, Managing Director of Corporate Management and Operations at UNIDO, highlighted the significance of industrialization in reducing poverty and increasing employment, and the positive benefits of this for women. She referred to the holistic approach adopted by UNIDO in its work in promoting women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship in the MENA region, stating that both policy and capacity-building dimensions are crucial.
“We have facilitated an ecosystem of knowledge and support, successfully partnering with governments and the private sector to create the foundation for structural change that has mobilized women’s entrepreneurship throughout the region,” she said. “For UNIDO, this project is one step forward in our long-term strategy for enabling women’s economic independence, because the resulting benefits will go beyond women and girls to put us all on the path to achieving the 2030 Agenda.”
The importance of integrating women into the political system was stressed by Neziha Laabidi, Minister of Women, Family and Childhood of the Government of Tunisia, who also highlighted the inclusion of women in Tunisia’s national, multi-sectoral strategy.
Teresa Bellanova, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of Italy drew attention to Italy’s commitment to promoting women’s rights and gender equality and to supporting women entrepreneurs and capacity-building at the local level in light of the radical, recent economic and geographical changes shaping the MENA region’s reality.
The discussion also touched upon issues faced by women in the region, such as access to land rights and discriminatory socio-cultural norms. The need for partnerships to come up with integrated solutions to such issues was addressed by Mohammed Naciri, Regional Director for Arab States, UN Women.
Engagement with the financial sector, including making capital more easily accessible to rural women, was underlined as a key factor in empowering rural women by Emanuele Santi, founder and president of Afrilanthropy, which connects social start-ups in Africa to impact investors. Santi added that creating incentives – for example by giving bonuses to companies that invest in companies led by women and rural women in particular – was another key to success. Finally, he stated that the development community had to “work as an ecosystem” and blend financial support with non-financial support.
The event was held on the sidelines of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), an annual two-week session at the United Nations in New York. The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Speaking at the opening of the CSW, UN Secretary- General, António Guterres, stated that the Commission was “leading the way” when it comes to empowering women. “When women are already taking action, we need to listen to them and to support them,” he said. “By building equality, we give women a chance to fulfil their potential. And we also build more stable societies.”
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